Don’t Just Consider What the Author Thinks

RobinWThe moment I laid eyes on this meme, this entire post flooded my foggy head. I’ve been dealing with allergies for about five days now and have barely been able to hear from the pressure in my head so being able to focus my thoughts properly has been nothing short of impossible. I’d like to thank Mister Williams here (GRHS) for the plunger.

July 4, 2016 through July 8, 2016, I ran a free Amazon promotion on six of my books, in an attempt to generate interest, reviews and of course sales. Apparently that was a pretty good strategy since they are in fact selling quite well and on top of that, Fireflies has added 26 verified purchase reviews and it’s ranking has stayed in the four digit range on Amazon for two weeks now. I’m not picking out the beach house by any means but improvement is better than stagnancy.

…pardon me while I get back on topic now…

Consider what you think. Consider what YOU think. This, my friends, is the beauty of reviews. We as authors tend to read and analyze every review (if we’re lucky enough to have them) when we’re first starting out and then even beyond that. I doubt I’ll stop reading every review until I hit 1,000 so in the meantime, I do my very best to learn from them. Do I take them all to heart and put every bit of criticism and praise into action? No, I don’t and I’ll tell you why; I maintain that I write for me because everyone has a different opinion and take on my stories. However, this latest batch of fabulous feedback has me combing through all of my reviews again and again because although some are brief, most of these reviews are stuffed with what my readers like and don’t like, what they took away from the story and unfortunately in some cases, what they missed completely. Here are just a few with my own thoughts, immediately after I read them:

3 Stars: (Which is good by the way) I like the premise, and so far I like the story. (At this point, I’m about a quarter of the way in). But the writing really needed to be tidied up a lot before it was published. The story jumps around a lot – a flashback had me wondering if I’d somehow changed books – and the sentence structure is sometimes really strange and made me re-read over and over again. There are also tense errors throughout. Not well executed. It’s a shame, because otherwise (so far) it seems like it might be a good story. Parts of it are written really beautifully, and occasionally it brought me in mind of ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ With a little more polishing, this could have been really wonderful.

Keep in mind, Fireflies was my very first novel. Having said that, a review like this, is worth its weight in bytes. Reason being, having reread the book myself several times since it’s been published, I agree with this reviewer and now cringe when I see stupid mistakes in the grammar, sentence structure and anything else that technically takes away from the story. I’ve come a long way since this little book and at some point when I can afford it, will have the book re-edited and rereleased if for no other reason than to feel better about my very first book birth. Yes, they’re like our babies and the eldest isn’t always the smartest in the book world.

3 Stars:  Mixed reactions to this offering. Very creative story with a twist you won’t see coming. However, the characters were very odd emotionally and didn’t appear very believable to me. It also felt like the story would have flowed better if we were not following everyone’s romantic interests and marriages. I also had a bit of a problem with the strange tense shifts. Not a deal killer, but annoying.

This is a reader I’d love to chat with. As a rule, authors are strongly advised NOT to engage with readers over reviews. Of course it’s always okay to say thank you, you’re wonderful or can I fix you a snack out of thanks but it’s never okay to say, “Did you actually read where it states at the beginning of the chapter that she was daydreaming and remembering?” No, that is so not cool and I would never recommend engaging a reader this way. Look, some readers are going to get you and some aren’t. That’s okay. However, if I had the opportunity to speak with this reader, I’d ask them to give it another try with this in mind; the reason for the surrounding sub plots is because not only is the family coming to terms with Ennis’ gifts, his gifts are also bringing about a spiritual awakening amongst the entire family and community. He is the pebble in the pond. It’s okay though, we’re cool.

5 Stars: This is one of the best books that I have read in a LONG time. Had to read it right thru couldn’t put it down ! !

Okay, okay so I threw this one in here just because. 😉 Seriously though, I love this person and wish I could send them a Christmas card.

5 Stars: I truly enjoyed this book. It’s well written and I enjoyed the story line. This is an author who I will read more of her books, and the content is clean and welcoming to read. Well done.

Priceless! Here’s why: the content is clean and welcoming to read. Well done. This is a clean book. No gratuitous sex, no unsavory language and it fits every demographic. This wonderful review just invited an entire audience of readers who prefer clean reads, into this story. Thank you!

5 Stars: This novel is a beautifully written work of love, family values, and a soulful connection to the spirit world. It reflects the time when countless migrated to the US to escape hard times in their own homelands . It shows how fragile life was then, and how through love and prayer almost anything is possible. The characters become your friends as their lives entwine with the spirit world and their day to day existence. You laugh and cry as Ennis leads you threw his short but meaningful life, only to feel goose bumps as the novel concludes. Definitely a must read

I wish I could hug this person, or bake them a cake or walk their dog for them. Here we have the human touch review. What this reviewer has done has highlighted the historical relevance of Fireflies, by mentioning the significance of immigration into the United States during the 18oo’s in the book. This reviewer also got the pebble in the pond undertones of the book. Forget the cake let’s take a hot air balloon over the Grand Canyon my friend.

5 Stars: This is a captivating story. Somewhere between an Irish ‘Little Women’, “Little House on the Prairie’ and its own story. It has the same rustic appeal, with the story relying on the characters to carry it. And oh do they carry it. Mixed in the the daily life of the Whelan family, is the plot around Ennis. His powers are done pretty subtley, and I wouldn’t call this a paranormal book. I would say it’s more historical slice-of-life, mixed in with a little coming-of-age and a dash of fantasy.

Last but not least, we have the brilliance of a review that compares your book to other well-known and much beloved other books…not to mention the flattery that plops the cherry atop the whipped cream by doing so. This review is very long but I chose this paragraph to highlight my point. This particular review is so well written I almost cried the first time I read it. Reviews like this make the hundreds of hours, lack of sleep, edits, rewrites and yes, even the bad reviews just melt away.

As writers, in the beginning we do place an enormous amount of value on these reviews because as crazy as it sounds, we first want you to like what we’ve done and we want to know what you think. Yes, what YOU think and what you feel. What I mean by that is we already know what we think. Believe it or not, some of us think we’re the greatest writers in the world and there’s no way you could think otherwise. Then, there are those of us who even six and seven books into our journey, still think we can do better and we need to know your opinion so that we can in fact…do better. We also want to read what you took away from our stories. Did you find the thread that held it all together? What if anything did you take with you and above all, will come back and visit us again?

It’s no secret to us as writers that reviews sell books and let’s face it, I want to sell books because I’m tired of sitting behind a desk eight hours a day when I could be fulfilling my dream of becoming a full time writer. However, the burden of proof is mine in that I have to write books that make you want to click that “review now” button or sit down that paperback and get on your electronic device and tell the world and me what YOU think—good or not so good. If you as readers only knew how important what you think is and the importance of your contribution to not only us as writers but to other readers whom you may touch through a few lines of your thoughts, I have no doubt I’d hit that 1,000 review mark in no time and hopefully at some point, actually sell 1,000 books.

To those of you who are dedicated reviewers, I salute you! To those of you, who may have been moved to start reviewing by this blog post, I thank you. I hope to someday read what you think.

Thank you Oh Captain…

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And check out my book below!untitled


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